This journey was much worse just 2 years ago when the road on the Cambodian side wasn’t paved. Nowadays, there’s a paved and sealed road on both sides of the border which allows for quick land transport to and from. Now here’s the hitch: Thai buses aren’t allowed in Cambodia and Cambodian buses aren’t allowed in Thailand. Despite all the promises of there being a toilet, no people sitting in the aisle, etc etc there isn’t going to be a toilet and there will be people sitting in plastic chairs in the aisle on the bus from Siem Reap to the border at Poipet.
Now back to the hitch…Since the Cambodian bus isn’t allowed to cross into Thailand you would think it would be as simple as having a bus waiting to pick you up on the Thai side. But as with all things in this part of the world, it’s not so simple. We stopped at the bus company’s office about 2km from the border to exchange our tickets for red stickers. Every bus company has their own color to distinguish themselves. The fact that there’s no overlap in color leads me to believe that they’re all working together in some sort of price fixing scheme. Now back to the stickers…we were stopped at their office for nearly an hour waiting for the guy to come up with the stickers. A better way of doing this would have been to give out the stickers when we boarded the bus instead of wasting an hour handing out stickers. Idiots!
Like all border towns, Poipet is really seedy and not a nice place to stay for longer than you have to. The only thing you can do here is gamble at one of the many casinos that have popped up in recent years. Crossing through Cambodian immigration took a while because they’re not equipped to handle large amounts of people but immigration on the Thai side went very smoothly. After crossing over we then waited for over an hour while the idiot bus staff arranged minibuses to take us to either Bangkok or Koh Chang. Why it took so long to get people into minibuses is beyond me. It’s not difficult to put 12-13 people and their luggage into a bus. It certainly doesn’t require an hour to get it sorted. And in the end after all the fuss the bus company staff put us through to fill up the vehicle there was an empty seat on our minibus. It never ceases to surprise me how dumb people can be. Thankfully the rest of the ride went smoothly despite our driver thinking he was on a formula 1 racetrack.
For those of you planning on taking this trip, the current going rate is 8USD for the full ride from Siem Reap to Bangkok. There are 2 toilet breaks along the way but no food stops so be sure to bring food and water with you before departing Siem Reap. We stopped for petrol around 16:00 and luckily there was a noodle stand there but before this point the only thing available was a semi-ripe mango for 20THB at the Thai border. Departure time is around 08:00 and arrival time is around 18:00 near Khao San Road.